With most people spending as much time as they can inside and away from others these days, a lot of car owners are contending with the care a mostly stationary vehicle requires. For many in the military community, however, this is a common scenario. From multi-week field exercise to tours at sea to lengthy deployments, caring for a POV that may not hit the road for long stretches of time is fairly common.
8 Expert Car Maintenance Tips for When You’re Deployed
Deployments up to a year long or more, months at sea, weeks in the field or on exercises, and TDY’s far from home base are all parts of everyday life in the military. This can result in long stretches without you being able to take care of your car. But that’s no reason for it to turn to rust and dust while you’re away. If you’re about to take your first lengthy stretch away from home, or maybe just want some new pointers, we’ve compiled 8 expert tips to keep your car in tip-top shape while it sits in your garage or storage facility.
1. What Drains a Car Battery?
Your battery can lose its charge when you’re not driving your vehicle regularly. If you’re handy around cars, you can connect your battery to a trickle charger or battery tender. If not, it may be easier to have someone drive the car periodically. A friend, neighbor, family member, or coworker, although preferably someone covered by your insurance policy. Vehicles vary, but a rule of thumb is to have your vehicle driven one to two times a week for around 30-minutes to an hour at a time. Simply idling the car in the driveway, or driving short distances will continue to draw down the battery.
2. Periodic Driving Keeps Fluids Cycling
Driving the car every few days can also help keep car fluids from pooling and can keep critical engine parts lubricated.
3. When to Check Car Tire Pressure
It’s a good idea to check your tires when the seasons change, as changes in outdoor temperature may affect tire pressure. If you have a flat tire on your idle vehicle, don’t let it sit too long without attempting to inflate it. A flat tire can develop cracks or can damage the rims, which can result in having to replace them completely.
4. When Should You Fill up Your Gas Tank
Keeping your car with a full tank of gas can help prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to engine sputter and sudden increases or decreases in speed while driving.
5. Check Fluid Levels
When you or someone else does take the car out after it hasn’t been driven recently, run the washer fluid and test the wipers to make sure they’re not smearing, streaking, or chattering for the next time it rains.
Make sure your car’s transmission fluid, coolant, washer fluid, and power steering fluid are at the proper levels. When you take your car into a Valvoline Instant Oil ChangeSM location for a full-service oil change, they will perform an 18-point maintenance check that includes checking your fluids as part of the service.
6. Clean Your Car
If your car will go unused for any stretch of time, a thorough cleaning is a good idea to prevent bugs, dust, and buildup.
- Remove your personal items, particularly anything of value.
- If your car is parked outside, keep the car locked, windows up, and remove the garage door opener.
- Be sure to toss any food or drink.
- You might want to have someone air out the car every once in a while.
7. Keep Your Car Covered
Keeping your car inside a garage or carport is ideal, but even a big, shady tree can help protect your vehicle from sun damage. That being said, avoid maple trees, which drop “whirlybirds” and have a lot of pollen. The same goes for other pollen producing trees like birch, elm and ash trees. Also avoid trees that attract a lot of birds, such as any species that produces berries.
8. Long-Term Car Storage
If your vehicle will be unused for two months or more and you can’t find anyone who can regularly tend to it in your absence there are some simple steps you can take to make sure it’s protected:
- Disconnect the battery.
- To prevent mice and other rodents from taking up residence, put dryer sheets inside the vehicle and in the trunk, place moth balls around the vehicle, and steel wool in the exhaust pipe.
- When you’re ready to drive the vehicle again, remove the steel wool, reconnect the battery.
- Also check under the hood for nests and other evidence of rodent damage, for example, chewed hoses.
Think time, not miles. When you do get back to driving regularly, remember that your vehicle might not have been accumulating miles, but it did experience the passage of time. During its idle months and weeks, the oil and additives have aged and may have lost some of their effectiveness. So, when you think about your next oil change, look at the date of your last oil change, not just the miles you’ve driven.
When you get home from your POV make sure to take it into the nearest Valvoline Instant Oil ChangeSM and their professionals will help your vehicle get back on the road in tip top shape in no time.